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Journalist and author Mark Liebovich discusses his book ``This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral -- Plus Plenty of Valet Parking!''

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Washington 33, Mike Allen 8, Harry Reid 7, Tim Russert 6, Michael Hastings 5, John Kerry 4, Us 4, Chris Matthews 3, Andrea Mitchell 3, Schumer 3, Tom Brokaw 3, America 3, Sarah Palin 2, Boston 2, Michigan 2, Mississippi 2, Evan Bayh 2, Larry King 2, Darrell Issa 2, Nbc 2,
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  CSPAN    Q A    Journalist and author Mark Liebovich discusses his book  
   ``This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral -- Plus Plenty of Valet...  

    May 3, 2014
    4:59 - 6:01pm EDT  

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>> this week on "q&a," new york times magazine correspondent and author mark leibovitch discusses his new book entitled "this town: two parties nd a funeral -- plus plenty of valet parking! -- in america's gilded capital." >> mark leibovitch, author of "this town," i want to show you some video and get you to comment on it. >> they chartered a bus to take some visitors. i cannot tell you the last time i heard the words henry kissinger and greyhound bus in the same sentence. they wandered onto the wrong bus and ended up in a promise keepers rally in arlington, virginia. [laughter]
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but the marriage is obviously going very well indeed. >> spina bifida roast, in 1997. what did you see in that clip you may comment on? >> nothing. it is andrea mitchell who was a terrific journalist. you cannot emphasize that enough. it looked -- just seeing that right now -- it looked like a friendly washington event. jokes are told. looks like a lot of comedy. >> anything wrong with that? >> no, not really. i think the reference he was making was to andrea mitchell and alan greenspan's wedding that had been held around then. they are a power couple. andrea mitchell is a great journalist. alan greenspan is one of our most powerful economic minds in the last decade. it is an interesting dynamic when you have this crossover
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between friendship and social life. >> but the president of the motion picture association told you he would never lobby. >> he did. i think what chris dodd is implemented in this book is the impermanent feudal class, which is a term that tom coburn uses. it is used to describe the impermanent of washington. a lot of elected officials go on to become lobbyists and consultants. frankly, life is pretty good inside the belt. >> let's watch this. >> "this town." >> mark leibovitch. >> "this town." >> d.c. is described as inflated by big-money.
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>> senator schumer -- a human ladle in the local self celebration buffet. wow, mark. all kinds of reaction. >> they are taking down the preening egos of this town. the washington post. >> i hear there is no index. we cannot find out what is going on in this work. >> this book was so widely anticipated in washington as a screaming indictment. >> washington has created a bootleg index. >> your colleague suggested the notion of the composition -- >> everyone is talking about the book. everybody thinks they are in it. >> why are people that you wrote about so happy about this book?
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>> beats me. what is interesting, a lot of what you are seeing there was done before we saw the book. the speculation took on a life of its own. look. it is nice to have a book the bull are talking about, and obviously what happens is people focus on who is up, who is down, what news has broken. ultimately -- i do know what people to miss the more serious point. washington is doing very, very well in a very gilded age in some ways while the rest of the country is suffering. >> any reaction you have had to the book, surprising? >> not really. look, when you write a book, a lot can go wrong. that is the way i approach the world. i am somewhat neurotic in writing reporting and a lot can
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go wrong in 110,000 words. i was shocked -- i guess if there has been criticism from inside, it has mostly been in the vein of how dare he? how dare an insider give away the secret handshake? how dare an insider talk about other insiders in a way that perhaps might not be in keeping with the codes that we have in washington? people keep asking me, why are people uncomfortable here? i welcome the discomfort, but i think, this is journalism. this is what we do. >> you write about a man named ken duberstein in the book. here is a little bit of what he looks and sounds like. >> ronald reagan was very collegial. he delegated. he was a bold stroke leader. he was very comfortable and focusing on the three or four things he ran on in 1980 that he knew he wanted to achieve as president. he was very comfortable inside
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his own skin. and he hired people like jim baker, howard baker, me, and others to get everything else done. and also assist him on rebuilding our national security. cutting down on wasteful spending. cutting taxes. making sure that regulation did not get out of control. and fundamentally ending the cold war. quick swipe was he a subject in your book? >> well, ken, he is emblematic of a former. a former is a person who had an office -- he was the white house chief of staff at the end of the reagan years. now for the last 25 years he has been a former white house chief of staff. that is legitimate. that is what he did. he continued that identity as a lobbyist and coveted consultant and wise man. he talks about reagan a lot.
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look, he has done very well for himself as a former. he had a very distinguished career in government, but i did posit him as emblematic as someone who is set for life after having his ticket punched at the highest level of the white house. >> he had six and a half months as chief of staff but has been dining out on that for 20-some years. >> yes. >> and why is that wrong? >> it is not wrong. that is just how it is. what is interesting about washington in this age, once you have that title, even if it is a short title, even if you were voted out after one term, you can stay in washington and be a former chief of staff, former congressman, former chief of staff to congressman x or y and i gets picked up as marketable. you are in the club. that is a striking departure from the days in which people would come to washington to
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serve, serve a little bit, go back to the farm. which i guess is how the founders intended it. so, there is a new dynamic. the money and resources are available for people to do very well here. >> robert bernette is who? >> bob bernette is a super lawyer. i do not know if you have to go to a special law school to be a super lawyer. he is an attorney. he represents republican presidents, democrat presidents, the clintons, sarah palin, cheney. he helps people book book deals, tv shows. he is really sort of a fixer. he has cornered the market on helping people and broadcast media, people in the white house, people all over sort of cash in on their post-public life. >> here is what rob bernette
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looks like. >> we have a strong business department that does business deals and acquisition and structuring. then we have things like i do of publishing. i represent, i think you know, about 300 the television news correspondents and their contracts. i also represent the ex-politicians that come on. i present a lot of corporate executives. i get a lot of media relations things, criminal investigations. my own practice is generally described like that. >> he works by the hour. if you hire him, you pay him a lot instead of a cut of your book. did you ever think about going to him as an agent? >> no, i could not write about him if i did. i think bob has been very successful in going to people who have $10 million book deals,
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because when you look at the hours and rates, it will come to a lot less than the 15% which is what the standard literary agent would fee. i did not go to him and i do not think i will be going to him in the future. >> how long did it take you to think up the first sentence of your book, which is "tim russert is dead"? >> truthfully -- the first thing in the book is this state funeral event where this giant news man died in 2008. it was a very public mourning. it was the kennedy center for the public arts. there was a lot of congratulation going on. people were working it. i thought it was a quintessential washington moment to read the truth is one of my editors in the washington bureau
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read it and said, hey, this is a first line. you should use this. he suggested that i tack it on. i thought about it. i thought it was a little crass at first. but it worked, so i give full credit to. >> one of the people you write about is tom brokaw. here is tom brokaw, brian williams, and bruce springsteen. >> he would come to work every morning as though he had just won the lottery the day before. he was determined to take advantage of this good fortune he could not quite believe. we were all recipients of its might. >> we all did a guided tour of tim's hearts.
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>> there was a guy in a crisp white shirt. it says that he smiled. >> tell us more why tim russert, who you call the mayor of the city, got the official watch? >> i think the reason the death got my attention was the respect. it is general for or ronald reagan. he lived at the nexus of media. power, money. you needed tim russert. when he died in june 2008, it
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was an inflection point. it could be the media and politics. the epic general election campaign which resulted in barack obama getting elected. the internet -- really it was the first campaign that was fully acted out in cyberspace. politico with this new force. in a sense tim russert's death left a vacuum in this space where there was this real anarchy with new media coming in. the country was uncertain. in a sense, the center had not really been replaced sense tim died. for a lot of reasons i go into in the book, tim was a consummate washington figure and also a consummate american figure. >> how can one man be acquainted with all the stars? >> meet the press was the one
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place where politicians had to go to prove their mettle. you had someone like sarah palin bursting on the scene two months before tim's death, you sort of wonder if he had lived, would they have let her anywhere near him? tim was the unquestioned authority of sunday morning, but also needing to prove your mettle. i do not think anyone has come along since. >> you write about his son. why? >> luke russert is interesting. he is sort of a prince. he gave an incredibly moving eulogy at his father's funeral. looks was funny. a lot of people cast aspersions on him. nepotism gets thrown around a lot. it is quite obvious that he would not have gotten that job.
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but ultimately washington takes care of its own. but luke russert has had an interesting few years and i have been impressed with how he has handled himself. and really has come through a lot of the criticism he has gotten. it seems like he is doing ok. >> luke russert gave the eulogy at his father's funeral earlier. this is from the kennedy center. >> earlier today i delivered my father's eulogy and i would like to share a few excerpts. i'm sorry to every charity club that you belong to, he had the same speech for all of you. he would just tinker it a little bit. [laughter] i would like to do the same thing for all of you. [applause]
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that's what i will do. >> as you observe this funeral, you saw things that you did not like or things that were worthy of you commenting on -- >> a lot of what i saw was in the aisles beforehand and afterwards. the kennedy center program, it was very good, but it was something of a public spectacle. it was a branding opportunity for nbc. definitely there was some difference of opinion on how to proceed with the family, with nbc. ultimately i was struck by the spectacle it had become. as i say in the book, tim russert would have known better than anyone it was not about him. it was about who was going to
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fill his void. tom brokaw had a great line. "i want to welcome friends, family, and the biggest group of all, the people who think they will replace him." and i liked luke's line there. the notion of telling the same stories over and over again. tim russert like a lot of people in the media did a lot of paid speeches. he had a brand outside of his own space. you tell the same stories. it becomes part of your imprint. >> you have gotten some reviews. would you say overall -- you said this about david gregory. >> yes, i suppose.
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he was not a big player in the book. there are a lot of people construed as unfriendly. >> there is no one that you saw? >> probably. but there are people that you probably would have seen. i'm sure there is some awkwardness. there are meetings that i am not privy to. people seemed fascinated about it. the reviews -- there are some had once here, but they have been overwhelmingly great. so, i have been gratified. >> why would you expect me to read a bad review? >> because you are brian. and we have done this before. >> we have one from amazon. frankly, there were not that
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many negative ones. but this author, you -- is going to profit from gently exposing a despicable culture that he should be much more angry about. >> that is emblematic of a kind of criticism i have gotten. what i think is striking to me is a lot of people thought, he is a little too mean in places. he is a little too incisive. there are those who say, i went easy on them because i am taking care of my friends. first of all, the profiting -- i don't, knock wood, but that was not the motivation here. ultimately, yeah, there are people on both sides. there are those who say i did not go easy enough. i really do not know what to say except, i guess that might be a
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balancing issue. >> most americans including the president, hold the congress in lowest name. these characters are the scavengers and sycophants at the periphery to become rich and sort of famous just by hanging around. leave the bench attacks the most vulnerable transitional figures to achieve credibility without jeopardizing his access. in fact, this book will make him an important figure to reckon with. he will become, for a time, one of those people he is writing about. >> yeah, i don't know quite what that means. first of all, the overwhelming number of subjects in the book are quite powerful in their own merits. most of them are elected officials. i cannot control how people perceive me afterwards. >> other characters in the book -- we have video to show of them. one of them -- this is not a character. this is someone you wrote seriously about, a man named michael hastings who died
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recently. >> anyone i have spoken to who reached out to me, they never criticized my work ordering. a lot of them said to me, and this is self-serving of me to say, but i will say it anyway -- this is really mine. if these think tankers in washington are upset, i probably did my job. >> he was driving at 4:00 in the morning in los angeles, and the fire and all that. he was 35 years old. he wrote a book about stanley mcchrystal, the general in afghanistan. he had to leave the service. >> i met him twice. i never knew him. ultimately michael he's things wrote what i think is one of the arguably most consequential stories of president obama's first term. he wrote a profile of stanley mcchrystal in which the general and people around him spoke out.
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michael quoted from some of those conversations. there is some disagreement about whether ground rules were violated. ultimately mcchrystal ended up being fired for those remarks. there was quite a bit of reaction for hastings. i do not know the ground rules that were there, whether they were violated. ultimately, he was cast out. the there was again a "how dare you" outcry. it did have a circling the wagons category. in fact, i go hastings was an outsider. he was not a part of any club. he broke a big story. people like woodward and bernstein when they broke watergate were outsiders. quite often you need to be outside of those roles and that club in order to see it freshly or not be belied by things you
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do not know about. in the coverage over in afghanistan, they criticized michael hastings to you or somebody else? >> that was an interview with howie kurtz on cnn. a number of people did. >> what was her point? >> i am quoting from her interview -- "something does not add up here. if people in the field trust you, you will be invited back." needless to say, i do not think michael hastings would be invited back. again, i thought that was a window into the unwritten code of access journalism. and the importance of being inside -- for lack of a better term -- the team.
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and obviously journalist and the principles have very different functions. but i do not think michael hastings is worried about the next story. you are going to be thinking about an ongoing relationship. so, and yet, lara logan was extremely critical. john burns was critical. a lot of people were. i have never been a war reporter. >> given the kind of book you have written here about a lot of people -- most of whom you have seen at a public event -- is michael hastings good or bad? that whole idea of getting inside and blowing the lid off? >> look, without knowing the particulars, i think he is good. i think he wrote the truth as he knew it. obviously, i am not going to litigate whatever disagreements they may have had over ground rules. look, they spoke truthfully. i was struck at that point with the coverage around mcchrystal's
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comments. why would he let him in? that was a public relations on his part. for handling. it struck me. it was a process mistake rather than a mistake of over-candor. >> did you carry a notebook? did you carry a recorder? how did you keep track of what people said? >> a little bit of both. a lot of it was done during a reporter for the new york times and the washington post. there was a travelogue component. i interviewed a few hundred people. sometimes if i was at an event i would take notes. it was a real hybrid of different forms. >> when did you know you had a book? >> when it was done. >> when was the first mention? >> i officially made the deal to write the book -- i think he was april or may of 2010.
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it was right after the new york times magazine piece i did on mike allen who was a barely -- who is a very widely read columnist for politico. he does a piece called "playbook." that got the attention of people who wondered, is that how washington works today? today's news cycle, the ecology of washington. some people have an idea of flushing a larger perspective. >> no one knows where mike allen lives. you tell a story about a friend taking him home. he got out of the friend's car and hailed a taxi so he could go on. what is that all about? >> apparently mike allen is an eccentric figure. he is a very prominent journalist. he is extremely private. that was an awkward story. i have worked with mike allen
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for many years. i have known him for many years. to some degree, it was a meta-journalism exercise. mike is a character. but beyond being a character, and very private, he is also an extremely successful, prominent, influential journalist and i wanted to try to reflect that. someone who has made washington work or him, but someone who drives the way people talk about and cover news around here. >> another person we do not know much about is matt drudge who drive the conversation. are these the only people that matter, or are they just people you picked? >> they are just people i picked. i could not be comprehensive. you have to pick people you think are typical and make a broader point.
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matt drudge, obviously very powerful websites, the drudge report is a powerful website. i guess i did not write about him -- first of all, he has been around as the late 1990's. i think it is pretty well established. i think politico may have suffered a little bit because it is new. the washington post, the l.a. times has been around for a long time -- >> mike allen is politico? >> he controls the coverage. hopefully mikey is with them. we will get these scenes we are looking for am planning on writing about for tomorrow. >> they have merged into one super cam. the last two nights there have been surprises. tonight we think we know what is going to happen. my prediction of a single digit
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lead for mitt romney or the network prediction of double-digit -- >> it strikes me, we see him all the time. matt drudge hides down in miami. i'm sure he does not hide. is there a payoff for mike allen that he is here versus not being here? >> i think so. mike allen is shoe leather. he is everywhere, like you said. you will get e-mail from him at all hours. he seems to be -- you look up and all of a sudden he is on c-span. he is on the mikey camera, whatever that was. mike is an insider. i do not think he would pretend otherwise. >> if you live here and get his playbook come out, what does it look like? >> it is an e-mail that comes from 5:00 in the morning to 8:00
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in the morning. it is sort of a synopsis of news that may have broken overnight, what mike has decided is the thing that will drive the conversation that day, using the terminology. there are a lot of birthday shout outs. sometimes there are personal commentaries. it is a hodgepodge -- i guess speaking from my own experience, something that keeps people coming back. tv bookers read it religiously, as do editors. it is an outsized vehicle in getting people -- setting the agenda for a given day. >> in the book you say, naturally he says he hates washington. what is the hate washington thing? >> everyone claims to hate washington. there are very few washington exceptional lists who will say, i love it here.
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trent liked people to think he would rather be in mississippi or anywhere else. trent would like people to think he would rather be in mississippi or anywhere else. he's in a position to do very well here. >> in that clip we showed jim van i -- >> the executive director of "politico." >> you quote him. he is contemptuous of washington's it used to be better reflex. what is he saying there?
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are we old-timers worthless? >> jim is putting forth the view that the age at which the 20 boys on the bus are setting the agenda in their one story they write or file a day are over. one of the missions of "politico" is to democratize the conversation. 100,000 people can read mike allen every day. everyone can blog about it. what jim was saying is that there is this wild west. there is this notion that the conversation has been broken open. i wouldn't be as disparaging, especially of the body types of my forbearers in the journalism
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world. he was probably just trying to draw a sharp contest -- contrast. >> is there such a group, middle-age, left of center, overweight men who decided how the way all of us see politics and governance. you can. -- >> -- came here in -- >> 1997. i was at the post for --"new york times" for seven years. >> a lot of those guys are long gone. is that what he's talking about? >> presumably. he seemed to be talking about the boys on the bus caricature. johnny apple's. in some ways, it is a strawman. jim did more for his people. i did more for my people.
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the way in which it used to be is often thrown out there is a sacred cow. nostalgia or vilification is a little extreme on both ends. >> margaret carlson wrote a review of your book. have you seen it? >> everyone tells me not to read reviews. since i have not followed that advice, i have seen it. >> she says, even though you are tough on the club -- define the club. >> this free-floating cast of elected officials, former elected officials staff who are lobbyists, journalists, hangers on that constitutes what we call official washington or insider washington. >> are you in the club? >> yes. >> she says though you are tough on the club, you are a man with a heart. >> i would agree with that. >> i have not seen the reference
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to your heart. what did you think? you lost a brother years ago. when was that. >> my younger brother. he was in a car accident when he was 17. i was 20, a junior in college. he was a passenger and his best friend was driving. a speeding tow truck was going to the scene of an accident and hit the car. phil was in a coma for 5, 6 years and eventually died when he was 23. i was living in boston. one of the reasons i went back to boston, i went to the university of michigan -- just so i could see him after work. that was an awful time in my life. >> what impact did it have? >> i don't know. i guess a pop psychological analysis is that maybe i trying to succeed for two. i don't know.
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i miss him. i think about what it would be like to have him as a great friend in adulthood, and my sister and i, two sisters and i are very close. that empty space will always be there. the lost potential, and everything. without putting it into granite construction, it's mostly sadness -- grand construction, it's mostly sadness. >> your sister works at "the huffington post." >> i thought it was important to disclose immediately that lori worked in a very adjacent -- close, adjacent office. >> did anybody get mad enough at you to communicate to you about the book? >> sure. >> give me an example. >> maybe i wish he would
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consider, there were some how-dare-you's. i've been in this town for 50 years, and you focused on this and that. i'm being deliberately vague here. i don't want to violate private conversations. there have not been many. i'm sure there is a lot of chatter about this and what i have done. nothing of note. i was surprised. it has been out for a couple of weeks now. the response from the aggrieved parties has been muted. >> given the way you talk about this town, in the end, doesn't everyone who appears in your book really benefit? based on the way you say the town operates. i've got the index here from "the washington post" with names in there.
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rushed to the "post" to see it. >> it is interesting. a number of people have mock complaint, and said, how could i not be in their? -- there? >> i didn't make the cut, but you didn't make the cut. that was a tweet. >> he was a character not mentioned once in my book but was mentioned a lot in coverage of the book. he was a former lawyer in the clinton administration, now a crisis pr guy. he's very vigorous and successful in getting attention for himself. he mock complaint about not being in there, but then thanked me. then all of a sudden people were talking about davis. >> my son went to this quote in your book.
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i was at a buffet table. chris matthews blamed the story for costing him a job he really wanted. chris matthews is known to be someone who'll tell people exactly exactly what he thinks. did he tell you off? >> i wrote a profile of chris. it was the spring of 2008. most people who know him said it captured chris very well. chris did not like the profile. it was always a little awkward to run into him. he got over it. ultimately chris and i are fine. the chapter you are reading from, there is a scene at the end where chris said something to the effect -- bottom line, chris and i are fine. >> didn't matter whether you were fine or not? -- did it matter whether you were fine or not? >> if you do your job, you do it
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honorably and you serve your sources and readers and bosses and the truth, i don't think you have anything to worry about. >> you talked about members of congress and former members of congress. you right here, this was a slight hedge compared to what chris dodge -- dodd told me when asked if he would consider being a lobbyist. one in -- of the instances. we see this a lot. why? >> i don't know. it's a common reflex. when you're in office, it is considered unseemly to say that you are looking for your next job or your lobbying job. once you're out of office, it is if it's fixed -- the etch-a-sketch is clean. people are free to make a
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living. they are free to do this, whether they say they are going to or not. there is no penalty for lying. i wrote this as part of a much larger chapter on former is doing just that. it wears you down. it makes people like me cynical. you have these idealistic change machines, like the obama 2008 machine. very successful campaign. for a powerful, delivered very deftly by the then senator. they said they were not going to opt out of the campaign finances. then they started raising all kinds money, and they opted out. they said they were not going to work with super packs in his campaign. suddenly they were getting outgunned seriously, and said they were going to work with super pac's. they said they were not going to
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have lobbyists in the white house, and then they made exceptions. there is any number of never mind's that this administration will just sort of exercise like to get out of jail free card. it wears you down. i say that as a journalist and someone who would like to think better of people when they say they're going to do certain things. >> what did you think of government when at the university of michigan? >> i didn't study it. i grew up with an old-fashioned respect for institutions. when i was in ann arbor, the one election i was there was the 1984 election. vice president bush spoke at the steps of the michigan union on the anniversary -- i guess the peace corps was announced by
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john f. kennedy. maybe 1984, 1983. i remember him being heckled. i remember him being completely appalled that everyone in that office -- being completely appalled that anyone in that office would be heckled. i was not politically active at all, i remembered being struck by the level of passion and emotion and rudeness that could prevail in an environment on a politically active campus. >> the cantankerous liberal appropriator retired in 2010. tell us about richard. >> he is someone who is an
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elected official, congressman, presidential candidate. one of the most passionate, seemingly sincere people you would ever see. one of my favorite political events was seeing him on the eve of the caucuses in 2004 at a teamsters rally in marshalltown, iowa. all these huge trucks came in. they would get him into his windbreaker. he is the son of a milkman driver. it was a great labor rally. as soon as he got out of office, he represented any number of corporate interests but had spotty records in labor relations. he reversed a number of positions. he has become -- seen by many as someone who has checked whatever ideals he had at the door once he left congress to the purposes of doing well after. >> you say by 2010, his
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government affairs was listing annual billings at $6.59 million. then you go on to talk about how prounion he was in congress. you used the c-word, cynical. we are told to be skeptical, not cynical. when do you walk over that line? >> when you see this. when you see it happening so regularly. it is this reflex in washington where it is seen as acceptable to do this. people can make a living. people can do what they want. this is post a be a city built on public service.
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maybe this is quite an outdated. -- quaint and outdated. the idea that self service has taken over the city to a green -- degree that has become offensive is a story that has not been fully told. >> before we finish, can you think if there are people you would nominate for being on the other side of this? members of congress or public officials who you think you're not cynical about? before we do that, you write about dire need of a recovery summer. what happened to evan bayh? >> he was a former senator from indiana.
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he was very ostentatious on the way out. he wrote an op-ed for the "new york times" about how awful it had become, how he wanted to make a difference, how he was burned out on all of it. he talked about partisanship. evan bayh then immediately joined the chamber of commerce. he got a pundits gig on fox. he talked in that ed about becoming a teacher and making a difference in kids' lives. ultimately, he is another example of a whole string of examples of both parties that i talk about. >> when you talked about trent, the fact that he said he hated washington, you say this on page 170. he was a little shifty when he quit the senate. why was he shifty? >> he was asked if the timing of
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his resignation -- which took a lot of people by surprise -- all of a sudden, he quits. he joins a former colleague in lobbying. a rule is going into effect in which there was a lobbying ban. it went from one year to two years. essentially, it was a timing issue. it is pretty widely remarked upon. >> i want to show you some video from 1984, before you came to washington. this is "the larry king show." radio only. you will see a couple people in the picture, including rod nesson. >> this is larry king in washington, serving america for 50 years. this is a mutual radio network.
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>> this is barry manilow. i've written a lot [inaudible] [indiscernible] [inaudible] >> we're falling into delay, right? >> yes. >> what happened to tammy haddad? >> she doesn't have the white streak in the middle of her hair, which is their -- her trademark now. she is a longtime producer for larry king. she is a dynamo. she worked with chris matthews
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for a while. she and chris parted company around 2008. tammy reinvented herself as a for a purpose -- full purpose convener. she does a lot of consulting for media companies. it's not entirely clear what she does. she does seem to have a video component. she produces things. she is everywhere. she is someone who has made washington work for her. she would say that she is an insider, she just likes to bring people together. she has been a very successful business woman. >> have you heard from her in how you portrayed her in this book? >> i portray her accurately, i think. everyone is entitled to their own story about themselves. i have not heard from tammy. >> kirk gardella. the chapter was adapted for the "new york times" magazine a
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couple of weeks ago. who is he? >> the former press secretary to darrell issa. issa was about to be the chairman of the house government oversight committee -- government reform committee. kurt was this incredibly transparent operator, someone whose ambitions he wore on his sleeve. he joined the workforce at 17, didn't go to college. i thought he was refreshing, kind of a naked operator. for some reason, he let me follow him around. i was interested in him as a subject of the book. in the course of our dealings together, he forwarded me a bunch of e-mails that he was receiving on a day-to-day basis to try to give me a fuller picture of how he was spending his days.
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a little unusual. "political" got wind of it, and they wrote a story. it became a scandal, that he was sharing e-mails from people who didn't know their e-mails were being shared. he was eventually fired and then eventually rehired. >> why was he rehired by darrell issa? was he fired because he became the issue? >> i think he was fired because he messed up. at the time, it was decided [indiscernible] it has a very close relationship with darrell issa. he was very good at his job. darrell issa got a ton of press, largely thanks to kurt bartel. i think if he is watched closely, he can bury -- be very effective. >> you write a lot about harry reid. [video clip] >> we have 15 nominees who have been held up for an average of
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nine months. does this place need to be changed? yes. look at all these people. i don't mind you being here. >> what does that say about harry reid? >> harry reid is a real character. he doesn't have a very well-defined verbal filtering device. he says what is on his mind. he's an odd character, someone who i think is fascinating. he kind of outsourced the things that a lot of senators care about, being on tv, getting credit. the big show horse speeches. he will relinquish that, being on sunday shows just so long as
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he gets to be in charge. harry reid decided to put all charisma on hold and just be the guy who is in charge. he is quirky as all heck. >> this quote was published in a review in the "wall street journal." it gets to your point. this is a quote from harry reid. he is one of the people who has meant so much to me, reid said of john kerry. you say that he tells lots of people how much he loves them. >> he does. harry reid is a politician. he's been described as ruthless, but he's very effective. what was interesting to me was not so much his cynicism, but
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how oddly honest he is. you just read an example of him appearing to be dishonest. the 90 became majority leader in 2006, he was with schumer and they were watching the -- night he became the majority leader in 2006, he was with schumer and they were watching. he called everyone who won. he would punctuate every sentence with some variation, i love you. i love you, hillary. whoever won that night. he looked at me and said, they need to hear that. what he meant was, their politicians. it wasn't so much as a wink. it was a matter of fact, harry reid statement. even though him telling john kerry he loves them on the floor of the senate on the day that john kerry announced he was not running for president again in 2006 -- he just said it.
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it felt right. john kerry seemed to appreciate it. it was public. they went on with their business. >> can you list five people in this town that if you did the opposite, probably a book no one would read, where you says that official is the antithesis? i read a tweet from somebody in politico, saying, what about the hard-working and serious journalists? >> i would make the general point that this is not black and white. everyone is complicated. people's motives are complicated. a lot of them change over time. i don't separate myself from this world either. by living and operating in the system, being attached to a major news organization -- people think they can benefit are not benefit from some reason, so they talk to me.
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you see this as a game. hopefully, ultimately, these are people. a lot of this exists in gray's. -- grays. there are a lot of people who are in it for the right reasons. or least to started that way, or want to think they are. ultimately, it is humanity and it is exaggerated. >> he writes in his review. washington is unique because it's human pageant is played out entirely on someone else's dime. mr. leibovich is the first -- isn't the first professional observer to notice that washington's economy is from top to bottom. parasitic. he is one of the first to not be especially bothered by it. someone else said to me, what is
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the solution to all of this? is there a need for a solution? why aren't you more bothered by it? >> i am bothered by it. i was bothered enough to write a whole book about it. i'm fully aware that this is subsidized by taxpayers, public trust. i'm not in the solutions game. there is not a chapter at the end where it says, what should we do? that's not my book to write. i'm a journalist, observer, trying to hold a mirror to this world -- hopefully in a way that will help people outside of this world understand it. if it brings up prescriptions, fantastic. >> married to a doctor. what kind? >> family practice. we have been married almost 20 years. she works for the poor in northeast d.c. at a free clinic. she is not involved in politics,
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not particularly engaged in the political media world, which is a great thing. >> three kids. how old? >> 12, 9, and six. all girls. love them to death. >> the front of your book, "this town," has a picture of a human being here cut off at the face. who is that? >> it's a great question. i guess the true answer is that the art director at the publisher pulled it off stock photo of the internet. there is your answer. >> mark leibovich, we are out of time. the book is "this town: two parties and a funeral - plus plenty of valet parking! - in america's gilded capital." thanks for joining us. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014]
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for free transcripts or give us your comments about this program, visit us at q-and-a.org. >> women became these incredible successes. not only do they be the first woman stockholders in the world, not to be repeated for 100 years, they had a radical newspaper. they became lecturers. they spoke to 6000 people or more. they were celebrities. they had headlines just their
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names. like madonna. they were just famous. kept threatening them with blackmail. we are going to expose you. started theirther ridiculous court trial in which husbandthat victorious -- victoria's husband wanted to kill that the press went wild and wrote about this very trashy family. the sisters had been trying hard for two years to hide all of that. they were reinventing theirself rs. they were not the least bit educated but they said they were. anything that helped them they had moved forward with. they were willing to wreck their whole life just to get back. d